Saturday, September 15, 2012

What Makes an Airport?

We in America take our airports for granted. Many of us live within an hour drive of an airport that has at least a half a dozen different airlines (O’Hare has 55) flying in and out of it on multiple runways that are long enough to land a variety of large planes. Our airports are full of shops, eateries, and usually at least enough chairs for half of the people waiting for your flight to sit down. The buildings are massive structures, and most airport terminals are so large and so spread out that they have trains to link them. If you have ever been to DFW, you understand that you usually spend more time commuting between terminals than you do actually flying on an airplane. 

Airports here in the mountains are a little bit different. Actually the only thing they have in common with airports in the US is that occasionally airplanes land and take off at the place called the “airport.” Here are a list of things you may find surprising if you visited the mountain airport that we frequently fly to:

  1. The “road” to the airport is a single lane road. What I mean by “single lane” is that one person can walk at a time. In the case of someone coming the other way, you have to climb up on the side of the hill to allow that person to pass. No car, truck, or even motorcycle has ever visited the airport.
  2. The airport building is a rough wooden structure that is approximately 12 feet wide by 20 feet deep. It has no roof. The “wall” facing the runway is chain link. It is a very, very dusty place. 
  3. The runway is dirt, and it is far from flat. Apart from the pits and bumps, it runs uphill at about a 5% grade. When the airplanes start their taxi they are heading away from the “terminal” that has a chain link wall. And the runway is dirt. Loose dirt. If you don’t turn away, your mouth, nose, and eyes will be filled with a pound of dust. Tasty. Since there is no Cinnabon, this is the only way to grab a bite before your flight. 
  4. During take off and landing there are usually 20-30 people hanging out on the side of the runway. About five of them work for the airline, and another five are police or military. Everyone else just wants to see the airplane or are trying to fetch their luggage. 
  5. After a plane lands the luggage is unceremoniously flopped out of the cargo hold onto the dirt. After the plane takes off again you can go pick it up. 
  6. There are two airlines that fly in and out. One flies nine-seat planes, and the other flies 16-seaters. There is no beverage service, but there are three point harnesses for every seat. 
  7. There are no chairs in the “terminal.” Or free wifi. 

So what makes an airport. Well, I guess very little. The important thing seems to be that a plane occasionally lands or takes off. That’s about it. 

Airport Terminal 1A

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Three months ago my two ministry partners and I visited a village high in the himalayas and heard that a friend of ours, for the fifth year in a row, was facing the death of a loved one. In the past four years, he lost his father, his only son, and two other relatives. This year his wife had just given birth to another son, but the pregnancy had caused complications to her own health. When we arrived in the smoke filled home, we saw a woman covered in blankets and barely alive lying in the corner. As we sat down on the dirty floor, we heard a small sound come from a nearby basket. I searched through the layers of sheep skins to find a tiny, malnourished baby boy no more than six pounds, but already six weeks old. His mother seemed to be suffering from congestive heart failure, or some other heart condition, and was barely able to move. There was nothing we could do. We had no medicines. We told the husband that we believed in a God that could heal and told him the story of Jairus and the healing/resurrection of his daughter in Mark 5. He invited us to pray for his family, and we called out to God to have mercy on this family. An hour later we were in tears and had yet to see God move mightily in this woman’s life. With heavy hearts, we moved on to the next house we needed to visit. Two days later, we received word that the woman had died, and the family’s neighbors suspected the baby boy would be next. For three months, we heard no news, and the village they live in has no phone connection whatsoever. This past month we were attending a festival, and a little girl ran up to me. I recognized her as the little baby’s older sister. She told us her little brother was still alive! Among the people we work with 1 in 17 mothers die in child birth, and the infant mortality rate is at 50%! The fact that this little baby made it to 6 months old is an absolute miracle. Our prayer is that this miracle would swing the door of his father’s heart wide-open to receive the God of miracles. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Best Supporters in the World

This is a blog I have been meaning to write for several months. You may guess that everyone in my position says this, but they don’t. The sad fact is that many people like us are under supported financially. Many people don’t like to go on home-leave because it’s draining. Some feel as though they don’t have support, that they are all alone on the field. What is even more common, though, is others in our line of work who go home to unwelcoming supporters who are ready to send them back out immediately or the opposite extreme, supporters who just try to convince them to stay home.

That hasn’t been our experience. We have all the support we need. You all are so generous and give so sacrificially. When we are on home leave and visit all of you, we are so energized to hear that people are praying for us, thinking about us regularly, and invested in our work. We don’t feel alone on the field. You communicate with us. You tell us how your praying, and you think about our needs. You are happy to have us home, and make us feel a part of your congregations. At at the same time you know our calling is not in the U.S., and you always send us off well.

We have the best supporters in the world. You have welcomed us into your homes for meals, taken us out to restaurants, let us borrow your cars, given extra special gifts to take care of specific needs, made us feel at home in your churches, surprised us with your thoughtfulness, prayed regularly, loved on our kids, and sent us off well with us knowing that we are just the visible parts of a much larger team.

Thank you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Buying Time

It has been way too long since I wrote an entry on this blog. Life, motherhood, school, and just general cranial disorganization has contributed to a serious lack of content. We recently moved into our new flat, and the craziness of it all has left me thinking about how I can manage to cram all the things I need to do into a day. At the end of the day, I often feel like the "to do" list has only grown longer. Those same days are typically ones filled with the frustrations of trying to teach two toddlers to grow into godly children despite their being the seeds of the Fall just like their parents and all the time that is consumed trying to keep a house cleaned, laundered, and fed in the South Asian context where neither electricity or water are particularly dependable. I have been challenged by the thought of how one, whether overseas worker or person living at home, buys more time. How do you carve time away from other less important things to place that oh-so-valuable time where it really belongs? We know that time is precious, but how do we get more?

In those few moments I have to just be quiet at the start and close of the day, I have been reading a book called One Thousand Gifts about a woman's journey to transforming her life from one of ingratitude and dissatisfaction to one of thanksgiving and joy. Eucharisteo. She commented in the book of the difficulty of taking time to say thank you when she had so little time to begin with. In giving thanks for all the little things throughout a day, from the warm smiles of her children playing outside to the curls of cheese she piled on a pizza, she began to feel a sense of having more time, similar to when Jesus gave thanks before feeding the crowds--that thanks took a little and made a lot. Essentially, this slowing of the heart and mind to recognize every gift from our Maker slowed time, gave her more, because she began to live fully in every moment. Another person in the book commented, "Wherever you are, be fully there." This week, I have been battling my scatterbrained nature to instead stop and live fully in each moment, rather than rattling off "to do" lists in my head while someone talked to me. I am learning, despite the fact that my flesh does not want to be taught, that thanksgiving has a transformative effect. Maybe it really is how we begin to buy time in this precious, short life.